TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards: Blis Technologies cures its position, wins Healthcare/Beauty Award

How do you reposition a brand after 18 years in the market? Blis Technologies found its solution in going to the root of the problem to educate those putting its ThroatGuard in the hands of consumers.

The Challenge

Since its launch in the market in 2001, Blis Technologies ThroatGuard was underperforming due to it being incorrectly positioned. People considered it a treatment for sore throats when it is, in fact, something you take to increase your natural immunity to prevent the onset of issues like sore throats.

ThroatGuard was the first commercialised product containing Blis K12 and its reason for being is very much around a story of prevention, not one of treatment. However, market research showed even those who were using it didn’t know it was a probiotic – they didn’t even know what a probiotic was. They were just taking it because they knew it was good for the throat.

To change this, it underwent a major brand redevelopment as part of a wider repositioning of the Blis range of probiotics.

The Response

That repositioning saw the ThroatGuard brand relaunched as ThroatGuard Pro with Blis K12 alongside new packaging, new sales material, a new sales team, and new advertisements.

But a new look for consumers wasn’t going to solve Blis Technologies’ problem alone. Vital to positioning the Blis Technologies correctly is making sure they are positioned correctly in pharmacies – the key retail channel. This saw it educate pharmacy staff to a level where they can advise consumers on when to use Blis.

Blis Technologies also recognised the importance of GPs in the communication mix as they are the healthcare professionals who see the patients who tend to get more sore throats and other winter ills more frequently than others.

It wanted the GP audience to be a strong source of recommendation so used sales representation, medical education, advertising and attendance at the major-medical conferences to tell the Blis and ThroatGuard Pro story.

The Result

Since the change from ThroatGuard to ThroatGuard Pro, the brand has undergone an amazing change and is now the number one brand in the throat lozenge category in Pharmacy.

Competing in the ultra-competitive throat lozenge category in the pharmacy channel, ThroatGuard Pro outsold much bigger brands like Difflam and Strepsils to sit number one in the category (as of 17 March 2019 on MAT basis). This performance represents a 278 percent growth year-on-year in a market which declined 3.3 percent for the same period.

As well as the success for ThroatGuard Pro, the financial year ending March 31 2019 was the first year that Blis Technologies has made a profit after being in business since 2001.

This was a huge milestone for Blis Technologies, and the contribution of the growth of the Blis branded portfolio was significant in reaching this goal.


Blis Technologies

Marketing Initiative
ThroatGuard PRO: Re-calibrating a Failing Brand

Marketing Partners
Insight NZ, Radiant Health

Judges’ Comments
“This entry is a good demonstration of how clear acknowledgement of a significant business problem and a whole-hearted commitment to change can result in a business turnaround. With a trade marketing effort to the fore, this submission achieved strong results against clearly de ned objectives, and sets the business up for even greater success with consumers in years to come.”

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

This piece was originally published in the 2019 Awards Issue of NZ Marketing magazine. To get a print copy, subscribe here.

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